PARIS: France’s Emmanuel Macron aims to kickstart a new chapter in his presidency on Monday with a series of policy announcements based on a major voter listening exercise launched in response to the “yellow vest” revolt. Macron will give a speech at 1800 GMT setting out the “first concrete measures” to be taken in response to the grievances aired at over 10,000 townhall-style meetings between January and March or posted online, the presidency told AFP.
One of Macron’s aides told AFP that the country could look forward to “a new act” in his nearly-two-year-old presidency, marked by “profound changes” aimed at drawing the line under five months of often violent anti-government protests.
The task of trying to satisfy the many, sometimes competing demands emanating from the “Grand National Debate” will be a tricky one for the 41-year-old leader, whose reform drive was abruptly knocked off course by the yellow vests.
Summing up the weight of anticipation on Macron’s shoulders Senate leader Gerard Larcher, a member of the opposition Republicans, told Le Figaro newspaper on Saturday: “He won’t get a second chance.”
The yellow vest movement, so called for the fluorescent jackets worn by demonstrators, began in rural and small-town France over fuel taxes and quickly snowballed into a broader anti-capitalist, anti-establishment rebellion. In January, Macron launched a series of debates to try to take the heat out of the protests.
Between January 15 and March 15, nearly 500,000 people took part in 10,134 meetings in community halls across the country, with hundreds of thousands more filling out questionnaires or offering up unprompted suggestions on the official debate website. Macron, who criss-crossed the country to engage local mayors and residents in marathon discussions, promised the French at the outset of the process to “transform anger into solutions” afterwards.__The Nation